Bastyr University hosts over 250 sustainable food leaders at the 2016 Farmer-Fisher-Chef Connection, a major industry event for Washington state.
Bastyr University’s Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science enjoyed the spotlight March 21 at the 2016 Farmer-Fisher-Chef Connection (F2C2), the state’s largest business-to-business networking and direct-marketing event of the sustainable food and farming industry. Presented by Fields Oceans Ranches Kitchens Stewards (FORKS), F2C2 is a daylong event known for serving the “Best Lunch of the Year” that features regional delicacies and sustainable ingredients in every dish.
This year’s event, held for the first time at the Kenmore campus, featured afternoon tours of the Bastyr University Medicinal Herb Garden and culinary collaborations between Bastyr Executive Chef Joe Ladine, student volunteers from the Nutrition and Culinary Arts program, and artisan food purveyors.
Delectable lunch entrees made by Chef Ladine included seared wild Bruce Gore FAS Dinglebar Lingcod from Triad Fisheries with pea shoots from Farmbox Greens, and Living Lettuce Salanova green and red oak lettuce salad with golden beets from Nash’s Organic Produce. Over 200 industry leaders from throughout the state attended, including ranchers, farmers, food retail buyers, chefs and food industry service providers such as financial institutions and food packing companies.
Bastyr faculty Cynthia Lair, CHN, was one of nine IGNITE presenters tasked with giving a lively presentation using 20 slides, each auto-advancing every 15 seconds, and lasting a maximum of five minutes. Director of the Bachelor of Science with a Major in Nutrition and Culinary Arts program since 2009, Lair outlined the curriculum and highlighted examples of the diverse skill set developed by graduates of the program. Lair closed by inviting attendees to hire program graduates and to become a vendor partner to host second-year students for their professional culinary practicum, a core feature of the curriculum.
Earlier that afternoon in Bastyr’s state-of-the-art whole-food nutrition kitchen, nutrition faculty Patrice Savery, MA, led an informative break-out session that educated attendees on the growth of gluten-free diets and the secrets of successful, delicious gluten-free baking. Samples of chewy and scrumptious Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, made with local chocolatier Theo’s organic chocolate and a special gluten-free mix of sweet potato, sorghum and tapioca flours, were eagerly devoured by attendees.
The University’s existing commitment to sustainable and local food sourcing along with FORKS’ expanding regional presence made the Kenmore campus the ideal backdrop for this year’s F2C2 event. FORKS President Justin Newstrum explained in his opening remarks that the organization intends to send a message by choosing to hold this year’s event in Kenmore: “We know the sustainable food scene in our region extends far beyond the limits of downtown Seattle.”
Highlighting the Eastside, Port Townsend, Skagit County, the Yakima Valley and many other hubs, Newstrum asserted that relationship-based producing and purchasing are critical to making sustainable decisions affordable and successful in such a highly competitive industry. In its previous nine years, F2C2 was held in a small number of meeting rooms inside a hotel or museum in downtown Seattle with limited parking. In contrast, attendees this year enjoyed access to the entire Kenmore campus and multiple parking lots. Participants attended talks and tastings throughout the campus including the large auditorium, several classrooms, the Bastyr Dining Commons, and outside courtyards and gardens.
Amy Grondin, event co-organizer and commercial salmon fisherman with Seafood Producers Cooperative, affirmed: “We were excited to host this event at Bastyr University. Our event connects producers of good, local food with businesses who care about the food they serve. It is about community. I very much get the feeling that community and good food also matter to all at Bastyr.”
Other highlights from the day’s agenda included author and biologist Thor Hanson's keynote talk on the evolution and essentiality of seeds, and a statement of support acknowledging agriculture experts and farmers throughout the state from U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell read by a representative from her office.
Year-round educational and networking events hosted by FORKS nurture relationships among food industry professionals and promote sustainable purchasing decisions. Started in 1999 by a small collaboration of farmers and chefs committed to growing the local food economy, FORKS now has over 150 business members. Upcoming programming includes apprenticeship opportunities for high school culinary students in May, stone fruit preservation seminars in September, and the newly expanded Washington Cheese and Cider Meet and Greet in November.
— By Lora Silver, a Seattle-based freelance writer, whole-food recipe developer, and hungrily curious graduate student in the Master of Science in Nutrition program at Bastyr University.
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